In Naquin, Sizemore sees plenty of similarities

Former Indians star says young Tribe center fielder 'just getting started'

In Naquin, Sizemore sees plenty of similarities

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Tyler Naquin was a teenager when Grady Sizemore was patrolling center field and emerging as a young star for the Indians. When Naquin watched Sizemore play, he saw the kind of player he envisioned himself developing into someday.

"I grew up watching him," Naquin said. "People would kind of say, 'You kind of run into the wall like Sizemore.'"

This spring, Naquin headed into camp fresh off a standout rookie campaign as Cleveland's center fielder, and Sizemore put on his coach's hat and joined the fold as an advisor to player development. In working with the outfielders each morning, Sizemore has formed a strong relationship with Naquin, offering another set of eyes and ears for the young outfielder.

Naquin, who is day to day with bilateral knee soreness and was a late scratch from Saturday's 4-4 tie against the Royals, said he has appreciated the bond that has taken shape with Sizemore. They have worked on defensive techniques, talked hitting and discussed plenty of other aspects of being a big league center fielder.

Naquin cuts down Asuaje at plate

"I've got nothing but good things to say about Grady," Naquin said. "First time I met him and I feel like I've known him for years and years. I think anybody would vouch for that. Grady's just a good dude on and off the field. But on the field, the man's got a couple Gold Gloves. The way he played the game. It's similar -- going all out.

"He's helpful, because he's still at that age to where I can relate to him as a player. He's fresh off the field. I wish Grady wasn't even here. I wish he was still playing. But, being able to have him is awesome -- absolutely awesome."

Sizemore, 34, last played in the big leagues in 2015, when he split the year between the Phillies and Rays. This past offseason, while coming to terms with the fact that his playing days were coming to an end, Sizemore reached out to Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of player development. Sizemore asked how he might be viewed as a coach, and Antonetti invited him to test the waters this spring.

The Indians have been impressed with how Sizemore has embraced the new challenge.

Naquin's RBI double in the 6th

"Grady went through so much as a player and cared so much about it," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said. "He's a great resource for these guys. One of the really cool moments that he had, he was talking to [Antonetti] one day. He said he couldn't sleep the night before, because he was thinking about how he was going to word something to a player he was working with.

"I was like, 'That's that moment.' The same care and effort he put into playing, we're seeing that on the coaching side."

That has especially been the case in terms of working with Naquin.

"I definitely see a lot of similarities," said Sizemore, asked if he sees a little of himself in Cleveland's current center fielder. "He's just getting started. It's fun to kind of be a part of that and just try to help him out and really just kind of be there for him to kind of pick my brain and work through stuff."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.